Robert Ehrlich is seeking federal help for the controversial Intercounty
Connector, The Washington Post reported March 14.
would link Interstates 270 and 95, running from Rockville east
to Laurel in Montgomery County, MD, costing an estimated $1.3
billion. Area officials have been discussing the highway for 40
years. The proposed route, twice rejected by the Environmental
Protection Agency, would carry traffic through natural land saved
from development rather than through developed areas.
Land Line reported Nov. 22 that changes in Maryland’s government after
the last election could revive plans for the 18-mile, east-west
connector. The previous administration in the state, led by Gov.
Parris N. Glendening, had rejected the highway, with the former
governor saying he wanted to end discussion of the connector "once
and for all."
The movement to revive the
long-languishing plan gained momentum in late January, when officials
in Ehrlich’s administration told The Baltimore Sun
determined to see the highway built.
government next week will begin consideration of projects to receive
a portion of federal highway money. The Post said the competition
includes more than 300 projects, and the connector route is among
those Maryland will submit.
objections to the highway come from environmental groups and their
supporters, who claim it will cause pollution of streams and possibly
harm the local trout population.
In a December
letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta quoted
by The Post, Montgomery Council member Philip Andrews of
Rockville said the road would cause too much environmental harm
for it to be the subject of an expedited study. On the same day
that Andrews’ letter was sent, 13 environmental groups also sent
a letter to Mineta, saying President Bush's executive order calling
for streamlined environmental reviews was not intended for such
a controversial proposal.
those objections, the new administration in Maryland is giving
clear signals it intends to move forward. Officials under Ehrlich
say the highway would reduce congestion on the Capital Beltway,
cutting pollution from cars and other vehicles, and allow commuters
to spend more time with their families instead of spending it
on the road.
"We will find a way to
build the ICC," Robert L. Flanagan, Gov. Ehrlich's nominee
for transportation secretary, told the Baltimore newspaper.